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Opp. alleges move to strip Ranil, SF, Rajitha, Patali, others of civic rights



‘Political Victimisation’ PCoI report:

by Shamindra Fedinando

An Opposition political grouping has accused the SLPP government of planning to deprive civic rights of several members of parliament and ex-MPs.

Opposition activists former Deputy Minister Karu Paranavithana, Attorney-at-Law Crishmal Warnasuriya, Attorney-at-Law Shiral Lakthilaka and Ananda Lanarolle alleged the government targeted former Prime Miniter and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, SJB MPs Patali Champika Ranawaka, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem and TNA leader R. Sampanthan on the basis of the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into Political Victimization.

 Public servants implicated in the PCoI report, too, face the possibility of losing civic rights.

 The issue was taken up at a press conference called at the National Library and Documentation Services Board on Friday (5).

The PCoI consisted of retired Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne, retired Court of Appeal Judge Daya Chandrasiri Jayathilake and retired IGP Chandra Fernando. Ms. Pearl Weerasinghe functioned as the Secretary to the PCoI.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received the report on January 8. The President appointed the PCoI on January 20, 2020.

The PCoI inquired into alleged cases of political victimization that took place in the wake of investigations conducted by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, FCID, CID and the Special Investigation Unit of the Police from January 8, 2015 to November 16, 2019.

Lakthilaka alleged that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was planning a Myanmar style authoritarian rule. The SJB National List nominee said that the electorate empowered Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Nov 2019 presidential poll, in spite of them repeatedly warning of the looming threat of dictatorship in case the SLPP candidate won.

 Alleging that the Justice Abeyratne committee report had been prepared outside the existing law, one-time advisor to President Maithripala Sirisena warned of dire consequences if the government exploited the report to advance its despicable political agenda. Lakthilaka claimed that PCoI project threatened the very basis of the country’s judiciary.

Asked to explain what the Bar Association of Sri Lanka’s role should be, Lakthilaka told The Island yesterday (7) that if the BASL, the Law Commission and the Justice Minister addressed the issues at hand, there was no requirement for them to take it up. Pointing out that the BASL election was around the corner, Lakthilaka said that the primary body representing the interests of the lawyers and the Law Commission couldn’t remain silent on the matter.

Addressing Friday’s media briefing, lawyer Lakthilaka urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa not to abuse and exploit available laws and the follow democratic way of governance.

Karu Paranavithana said that the PCoI process threatened Sri Lanka’s judicial system. Pointing out that the electorate overwhelmingly empowered Gotabaya Rajapaksa with executive powers, the former Deputy Media Minister alleged the President was bent on seeking dictatorial powers. Paranavithana compared what he called judicial crisis in Sri Lanka with Myanmar military seizing executive, parliamentary and judicial powers for a period of one year.

Paranavithana also claimed that the Abeyratne report had created necessary ground situation for an authoritarian administration.

The former yahapalana MP questioned the justification in appointing a Special PCoI to examine the Abeyratne report. The Special PCoI was established by way of a gazette extraordinary, dated January 29, 2021. The Special PCoI will be chaired by Supreme Court Justice Dhammika Samarakoon and will also comprise SC Justice Kumuduni Wickremasinghe and Court of Appeal Judge Ratnapriya Gurusinghe.

Lawyer Warnasuriya asked whether a Special PCoI could be appointed to examine PCoI report appointed in terms of another Act. Warning of calculated efforts to undermine the supremacy of the judiciary, Warnasuriya expressed confidence that those who had been appointed to the Special PCoI, too, would recognize the looming danger. Warnasuriya assured that whatever the challenges; they would definitely stand by the public and do everything possible to thwart the SLPP’s political project.

Ananda Lanarolle urged all members of the judiciary to take a common stand.

Meanwhile, former Additional Solicitor General Srinath Perera told the media that the Abeyratne report if implemented could destroy the public faith in the judiciary. Perera explained how the government sought to exploit the report to its advantage at the expense of all democratic institutions and cleared those near and dear to the administration who had been found guilty of courts or were currently facing proceedings.

Opposition activist Lal Wijenayake yesterday told The Island that the judiciary would be definitely moved against the government in that regard. Wijenayake said that they were in the process of discussing ways and means of tackling the threat and judicial measures would be taken.




Lanka to lend US$2.5bn to US and top-rated borrowers in 2023 under IMF deal: analysis



ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is projected to lend 2,533 million US dollars mainly to the US and Euro areas during an International Monetary Fund deal in 2023 including a mandatory 1.4 billion US dollars collected from exports and remittances, according to official documents.

Sri Lanka is expected to get two tranches of 331.2 million dollar (254 million special drawing rights each) in March and September 2023 from the IMF.In 2023 Sri Lanka has to repay 256.4 million dollars from an earlier IMF loan taken during an earlier currency crisis.

Net inflows from the IMF would be 406.12 million US dollars in 2023 if the first review is completed in September 2023.Sri Lanka has committed to collect at least 1.4 billion US dollars from remittances and exports and lend to the US and other developed nations during 2023 under the IMF deal.

A large volume has already been collected. An ad hoc peg is now operated under the IMF deal to buy dollars and export to the West, as ‘below-the-line outflows. Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves are usually loaned to highly rated sovereign or sovereign linked borrowers, mainly in the US.

But there have been amounts of Euro assets in Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves at times, triggering forex losses when the dollar to Euro parity changed.Under the IMF program there is a performance criterion to increase net international reserves by 1,948 million dollars during 2023.

Sri Lanka is also expected to repay a 200 million US dollar swap to Bangladesh during 2023, which will also raise the NIR.At the moment Sri Lanka’s central bank is in debt after borrowing from India, Bangladesh, India including on Asian Clearing Union dues as well as the IMF. Year end net international reserves would still be negative.

Sri Lanka’s gross reserves are expected to rise by 2.5 billion US dollars to 4.4 billion US dollars in 2023 indicating that the country will lend 2.5 billion US dollars to the US and other highly rated borrowers. It may include re-invested interest coupons.

Sri Lanka is also expected to get 650 million dollars from the Asian Development Bank and 250 million dollars from the World Bank as part of partner support for the IMF deal. Outside of core monetary reserves linked to reserve money, balances in Treasury accounts are also counted as forex reserves.

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BASL writes to IGP over protest against Saliya Peiris



The BAR Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has condemned a protest staged outside the Law of Chamber of BASL President Saliya Pieris, PC on Friday.The protest was staged against the representation of Saliya Pieris, PC for notorious Sri Lankan drug kingpin Nadun Chinthaka alias “Harak Kata”.

Condemning the protest, BASL said in a statement that Saliya Pieris, PC was only conducting his professional duties with regard to a particular client.

“We are of the view the said protest seriously hinders his right to represent a client, a professional right which has been safeguarded by law,” it pointed out.

The BASL called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take action to ensure that Saliya Peiris’s professional duties as an Attorney-at-law, are not hindered and to ensure his safety.

Full text of the letter: ” We write with reference to an organized protest outside the chamber of Mr Saliya Pieris, President of the \Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

We have been made aware the said protest relates to Mr. Pieris conducting his professional duties with regard to a particular client. We are of the view the said protest seriously hinders his right to represent a client, a professional right which has been safeguarded by law.In the case of Wijesundara Mudiyanselage Naveen Nayantha Bandara Wijesundara v Sirwardena and Others (SCFR 13/2019), the Supreme Court observed that:

“The first piece of legislation passed by the Parliament soon after the promulgation of the 1978 Constitution was the Judicature Act No. 02 of 1978. As the administration of justice in any civilized society cannot be effectively implemented without lawyers, the legislature in its wisdom, through the Judicature Act, established the legal profession.

Thus, there is no dispute that the legal profession is a sine qua non for the due administration of justice in this country and for that matter in any civilized society. The said profession is essential for the maintenance of the Rule of Law and maintenance of law and order and its due existence is of paramount importance to the organized functioning of the society which is primarily the basis for the smooth functioning of the country as a whole.”

Further, Section 41 of the Judicature Act which has clearly set out the right of representation, and, has further shed light on the above mechanism established for implementing the administration of justice in the country.

It is as follows; Section 41 of the Judicature Act (Right of Representation)

(1) Every attorney-at-law shall be entitled to assist and advise clients and to appear, plead or act in every court or other institution established by law for the administration of justice and every person who is a party to or has or claims to have the right to be heard in any proceeding in any such court or other such institution shall be entitled to be represented by an attorney-at-law.

(2) Every person who is a party to any proceeding before any person or tribunal exercising quasi-judicial powers and every person who has or claims to have the right to be heard before any such person or tribunal shall unless otherwise”

Therefore, we strongly demand that you take action to ensure that Mr. Peiris’s professional duties as an Attorney-at-law, are not hindered and to ensure his safety.”

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State need not do business, says Ranil, seven SOEs to be divested



ECONOMYNEXT – The State need not engage in business as its mandate is to provide services such as education and maintain law and order, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said Thursday defending plans to divest government-held shares of seven state owned enterprises (SOEs).

At a discussion at the presidential secretariat on Thursday morning, Wickremesinghe responding to a question about the decision said that Sri Lanka must no longer hold on to corporations and enterprises owned by the government.

Sri Lanka has been spending more on the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) than it has on education, he said.The following seven SOEs will undergo the divestment of state-held shares: Sri Lankan Airlines Ltd including Sri Lankan Catering Ltd, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Ltd,

Canwill Holdings Pvt. Ltd., (Grand Hyatt Hotel), Hotel Developers Lanka Ltd., (Hilton Hotel Colombo), Litro Gas Lanka Ltd., including Litro Gas Terminals (Pvt) Ltd., (LPG retailing), and Lanka Hospital Corporation PLC

The State Owned Enterprises Restructuring Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies will oversee the process, a statement said.

“Not all of them are loss making. But we do have to repay debt. You can’t keep these and pay back loans.

“If we can’t pay off our loans, we might have to sell something in the house and pay it,” said Wickremesnghe.

Asked why Sri Lanka should sell SOEs that aren’t making losses, he responded: “Why is the state engaged in business? That’s not our mandate. The state has no business engaging in business.”

“In what country is there a law that these (businesses) should be (held by the state)?” he added.

Noting that the crisis-hit nation is trying to embark on a path of recovery and rapid development, the president said Sri Lanka must follow India’s example.

“India is selling their airports, profit making ones. India has come to that stage. We have to go there too.”

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